2013 Resolutions

November 2014 Update:

1)    Copies of all resolutions with a cover letter were sent to the directors of DNRC, DEQ, and FWP. In addition, copies were sent to the Governor’s Office and the EQC.

2)    Copies were sent to each member of the Congressional Delegation and their staff. Resolutions were also discussed by the delegation to Washington, D.C. during March 2013.

3)    Individual actions are noted at the end of each resolution.


Resolution 13-01

Notification and Participation of Conservation Districts in addressing Natural Resource Issues

WHEREAS, Montana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts have long been leaders in the conservation movement and work cooperatively with other entities representing federal, state and local governments, social groups, environmental organizations and concerned citizens, and

WHEREAS, cooperation rather than legal action leads to workable solutions, and

WHEREAS, it is in everyone’s best interest to initiate open contact and dialog with all applicable stakeholders such as conservation districts, governmental agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations and concerned citizens, and

WHEREAS, there is need for continuous contact and dialog in the development of realistic time frames for these issues, and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, related to State and Federal planning projects and their implementation that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts takes the necessary measures to promote and encourage active participation between conservation districts, governmental agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations and concerned citizens who work cooperatively to address these issues.

Submitted by: Phillips CD

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area III

MACD Committee: District Operations

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE: MACD sent letters to partners in January 2014 to recommend better coordination with conservation districts. This resolution was incorporated into the Conservation Practices Month effort.


Resolution 13-02

Maintenance of Crested Wheatgrass and Smooth Brome Grass in Existing,  Environmentally Sensitive, Stands of CRP

WHEREAS, the USDA enrolls producers to plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve water quality, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat.

WHEREAS, CRP protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is

designed to safeguard the nation’s natural resources.

WHEREAS, by reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams.

WHEREAS, crested wheatgrass and smooth brome grass stabilize soils in extremely environmentally sensitive areas where other adapted grass species are not available.

WHEREAS, destroying existing stands of crested wheatgrass and smooth brome grass exposes these environmentally sensitive areas to soil erosion and water runoff.

WHEREAS, destroying existing stands of crested wheatgrass and smooth brome grass renders these environmentally sensitive areas vulnerable to invasion by noxious weeds.

WHEREAS, the cost to the government and producer to continually plant and replant, in some cases for five years of a ten-year contract, to replace previously existing ground cover of crested wheatgrass and smooth brome grass, is excessive.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Montana Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) request the Montana Farm Service Agency to allow existing stands of crested wheatgrass, smooth brome grass and Kentucky bluegrass in environmentally sensitive areas of CRP to earn enough points to stay in “as is” as resource-conserving grasses with some wildlife value

Submitted by: Daniels County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area I

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil Resource & Land Use

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE 11/2014: MACD has not yet set up a meeting with the State Conservationist and the State Director of FSA to discuss this resolution. The meeting date has not been agreed upon due to the transition of staff at MACD and the State Conservationist imminent retirement.


Resolution 13-03

Wild & Free Roaming Bison

WHEREAS, MCA 76-15-102, which is the Montana Association of Conservation Districts Declaration of policy, states “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the legislature to provide for the conservation of soil and soil resources of this state, for the control and prevention of soil erosion, for the prevention of floodwater and sediment damages, and for furthering the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water and thereby to preserve natural resources, control floods, prevent impairment of dams and reservoirs, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect public lands, and protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state.”

WHEREAS, Conservation Districts believe private property rights are primarily and fundamentally being protected, preserved, and enhanced through the US Constitution, State of Montana Constitution, and the conservation districts. We recognize that MCA 87-6-101 “Wild Buffalo” means buffalo or bison that have not been reduced to captivity.

WHEREAS, diseases associated with bison such as brucellosis, mycoplasma bovis, anthrax, etc. affects a substantial number of bison and elk in the state of Montana and poses a health threat and economic detriment to the livestock industry; and HEREAS, Montana, outside the Designated Surveillance Area around Yellowstone National Park, is currently brucellosis free, and every effort should be taken to maintain this designation; and

WHEREAS, the natural migration of free roaming wild buffalo or bison may create containment issues, threaten public safety, and infringe on private property rights; and

WHEREAS, due to free roaming wild buffalo or bison being a migratory animal, their presence creates the following natural resource concerns: spread of noxious weeds, riparian area degradation, loss of habitat for current wildlife species, impacts of dust wallows to top soil, vegetation loss, streambank erosion, loss of watershed function and stability, and damage and loss to high value cropland; and

WHEREAS, free roaming wild buffalo or bison can severely impact domestic, privately owned bison;

WHEREAS, free roaming wild buffalo or bison have the potential to negatively impact the existing tax base of Montana;

WHEREAS, private property rights are limited to each property holder and are not to infringe upon his or her adjoining neighbor’s property in any detrimental or threatening way.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Montana Association of Conservation Districts stand is opposed to free roaming wild buffalo or bison.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED Montana Association of Conservation Districts identify a sponsor for a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to prohibit the establishment of any free roaming wild buffalo or bison within the state of Montana.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Conservation

Districts identify a sponsor for a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to clearly define that any bison or buffalo that has been captive, corralled, fenced in, or transported is no longer considered free roaming and/or wild.

FINALLY BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts identify a sponsor for a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to clearly state that bison or buffalo that are not kept in the confines of those wishing to house them will be defined as domestic livestock and subject to Montana laws.

Submitted by: Valley County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area I as amended

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil Resource & Land Use

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE 11/2014: MACD worked to place Dean Rogge on the FWP Bison Advisory Panel. Dean was involved in the last two meetings of this panel. His success on the panel has led to his inclusion in the EIS process moving forward. MACD will work with Valley County Conservation District as the session approaches.


Resolution 13–04

Increase Competitive Bidding Limitation on Conservation District Projects

WHEREAS, the Sweet Grass Conservation District Board of Supervisors has determined that an urgent need exists to raise the threshold dollar amount for requiring a full competitive bidding process for construction projects administered by Montana Conservation Districts as is currently exists in Montana Code, and

WHEREAS, Montana Conservation Districts are more frequently sponsoring and administering construction projects within their districts in collaboration with federal, state, local agencies and private enterprises, and

WHEREAS, we believe Montana Conservation Districts could ease the burden of costly administrative duties associated with the statutory requirement to pursue a full competitive bidding process for projects exceeding the $50,000.00 and

WHEREAS, Montana Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of the state and are governed by an elected board of supervisors and as such are empowered to administer and manage public and private monies for projects sponsored by and located within a conservation district

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts sponsor a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to establish a minimum dollar amount exemption in the competitive bidding process for conservation districts consistent with the amount established for municipal governments.

Submitted by: Sweet Grass CD

Area Meeting Action: Area IV Passed

MACD Committee Assignment: District Operations

General Session Action: PASSED

UPDATE 11/2014:  DNRC will carry this legislation.  A copy of the bill has been drafted and reviewed by the Sweet Grass CD, which will be forwarded for final drafting by the legislative branch.  A copy of the draft bill is available upon request.


Resolution 13–05

Fuels Mitigation and Reduction Plan

WHEREAS, Rosebud Conservation District and the State of Montana have experienced a number of extreme fires in recent years,

WHEREAS, a significant amount of fire fuels exist in many areas due to beetle kill, old dead and dying trees in thick tree stands.

WHEREAS, the Rosebud Conservation District in cooperation with the state of Montana has administered a fuels mitigation program to lessen the chance of catastrophic fires in the future.

WHEREAS, planning and land management assist in the control and help prevent and reduce the severity of the damage and potential loss when implemented before the risk becomes a reality.

WHEREAS, Montana Conservation Districts are political subdivision of the state and are governed by and elected board of supervisors and as such are empowered to administer and manage public and private monies for projects sponsored by and located within the conservation district.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts encourage local, state, and federal governments to assist in creating a market based approach to fuels mitigation and land management to promote a more sustainable method of reducing fuels and preventing catastrophic damage.

Submitted by: Rosebud Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Area IV Passed

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil Resource & Land Use

General Session Action: PASSED

UPDATE 11/2014: This was discussed with senior USDA Forest Service Washington Office staff Doug Crandall. Doug mentioned the Biomass CAP program in response to the fuels mitigation resolution from Rosebud Conservation District. MACD will ask Rosebud Conservation District to contact Mr. Crandall to provide details about this program.


Resolution 13–06

MACD Mitigation Banks

WHEREAS, Montana’s Conservation Districts are responsible for the administration of the Montana Natural Streambed and Preservation Act (310) permit, and

WHEREAS, projects over 300 linear feet require mitigation, and

WHEREAS, the Army Corp of Engineers administers the Montana Stream Mitigation Procedure and calculates the number of credits required by a landowner for a project, and

WHEREAS, credits are costly and many producers do not have the means or land available to meet the requirements of mitigation, and

WHEREAS, there are many qualified projects across the state that could earn credits to be stored in a mitigation bank to be used by Montana producers, and

WHEREAS, a mitigation bank available through Montana’s conservation districts where credits would be stored and used or sold to producers, would satisfy all or a portion of a mitigation requirement.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts create a mitigation bank and/or create partnerships with other organizations that would be available to producers in Montana that need to do a project and can’t because of mitigation requirements.

Submitted by: Rosebud Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Area IV Passed

MACD Committee Assignment: District Operations

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE 11/2014: MACD met with DEQ and a consultant to discuss possibilities for Nutrient Trading.  MACD contacted both the private and NGO entity that have similar programs that could possibly meet the needs of this resolution, and asked them to contact Rosebud Conservation District directly. DEQ currently has a contractor assessing the feasibility of a statewide nutrient trading program. MACD will update the districts with the progress of this effort.


Resolution 13–07

Legal Clarification of Reserved Water Rights

WHEREAS, the intent of the Montana Legislature, through the Montana Water Use Act, Section 89-865 et. seq., R.C.M. 1947, is to provide for the wise utilization, development, and conservation of the waters of the State of Montana for the maximum benefit of its people with the least possible degradation of the natural aquatic ecosystem; and,

WHEREAS, Section 89-890 of the Act provides for the establishment of reservations of water by state and federal governmental entities, including conservation districts; and,

WHEREAS, conservation districts have, through the completion of a general plan for the development of each conservation district’s reserved water, and through yearly and/or 10-year comprehensive reports to the Board of Natural Resources of the Dept. of Natural Resources, provided proof of reasonable diligence; and,

WHEREAS the 1978 Order of Board of Natural Resources Establishing Water Reservations acknowledges Board satisfaction with the purpose of each conservation district water reservation, the need for each conservation district water reservation, the amount of water necessary for the purpose(s) of each conservation district water reservation, and that the conservation district water reservation(s) are in the public interest, and

WHEREAS M.C.A. 85-2-316(8)(a) states: A person desiring to use water reserved to a conservation district for agricultural purposes shall make application for the use with the district, and the district, upon approval of the application shall inform the department of the approved use and issue the applicant an authorization for the use.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Montana Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) shall encourage, through contact and monitoring feedback reports, the Montana Department of Natural Resources to adhere to Section 89-8-107 of the Act, and Section 85-2-316(8)(a) M.C.A. and assist conservation districts in their efforts to promote beneficial use of Montana’s waters by allowing use of conservation district reserved water to be exempt from the DNRC change process if:

1) The source was identified on the original reserved water application;

2) The original public notice of the CD reflects correct information of proposed use;

3) The place of use, township, and range are listed on the original reserved water

application;

4) The proposed use does not exceed 10.0 cfs or 1,000 ac/ft per year; and

5) The purpose is for agricultural irrigation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts working jointly with DNRC to adhere to M.C.A. 85-2-316(8)(a) to approach the Montana legislature to provide sufficient funding and staff to timely process approved conservation district reserved water applications.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Montana Association of Conservation Districts seek legal clarification that a conservation district reserved water right is a conditional water right protected by law as is a permit to appropriate water, and as such is not subject to the same requirements of a new water right permit application.

Submitted by: Big Horn Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Area IV Passed

MACD Committee Assignment: Water Resources

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE 11/2014: MACD and DNRC are determining the best way to approach this and talking with water rights specialists. It is unlikely we will be able to move forward with this until all water rights have been quantified.


Resolution 13–08

CBMPA Scope Expansion

WHEREAS, Treasure County Conservation Districts acts as the fiscal agent for the Coal Bed Methane Protection Act Committee (CBMPA), a group of landowners and producers, representatives of state and federal agencies, and representatives of other grassroots organizations entrusted by the State of Montana to distribute funds under (MCA 76-15-905), and

WHEREAS, the State of Montana further declares (MCA 76-15-901 through 76-15-904) that the purpose of this committee is to establish a long-term CBM protection account and a coal bed methane protection program for the purpose of compensating private landowners and water right holders for damage to soil and crop and to water quality and availability that is attributable to the development of coal bed methane, and

WHEREAS, the development of oil and other natural energy resources has increased dramatically, thereby increasing the demands and effects of water, and

WHEREAS, the CBMPA Committee has worked extensively to create baseline data for producers and water users affected by coal bed methane development, and

WHEREAS, oil and other natural energy resource development should require the same baseline data in the event of negative impacts on water quality and availability.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts approach the next Montana Legislature to request expanding the existing CBMPA law to include development of baseline and long-term monitoring data for all natural energy resources that impact water quality and quantity.

Submitted by: Treasure County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Area IV Passed

MACD Committee Assignment: Water Resources

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE 11/2014: Members of the Coal Bed Methane Board, DNRC, and MACD met with the Governor on April 23rd to discuss the importance of the program and emphasize the importance of retaining current funds for their intended use. A bill has been drafted to expand the scope for use of funds to issues related to development. The bill has been drafted and is currently under review by the committee. The committee is looking for a sponsor.


Resolution 13–09

Invasive Species Advisory Council

WHEREAS, invasive species including aquatic invasive plants and mussels, terrestrial noxious weeds, insects, and other non-native species threaten the natural resource base in Montana, and;

WHEREAS, the State of Montana must make a resolute and coordinated effort to address invasive species, and;

WHEREAS, multiple county, state and federal agencies and private land managers have a responsibility for managing invasive species, and;

WHEREAS, the most efficient way to address this issue is a high level of coordination across agencies and stakeholder groups, and; WHEREAS, the Governor’s ‘Blueprint for Improving Montana’s AIS Program’ identifies the need for an ad-hoc steering committee to oversee and monitor future progress/activities of the AIS program;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that MACD supports the formation of an Invasive Species Advisory Council attached to the Governor’s office. This would more closely align Montana’s invasive species management efforts with surrounding states such as Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and improve coordination among private, state, and federal stakeholders.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Invasive Species Advisory Council be comprised of members representing a cross-section of Montana agricultural, environmental, governmental, and business interests.

Submitted by: Mile High Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Area VI Passed

MACD Committee Assignment: Water Resources

General Session Action: PASSED

UPDATE 11/2014: MACD assisted in coordinating a meeting of parties interested in forming an AIS advisory council and is continuing to monitor other similar issues pursued through the weed districts. MACD is working with parties that are coordinating an effort to put in place the framework for the Governor to create an Invasive Species Council. The council appointments might be completed before the end of the year.


Resolution 13-10

Conservation District Group Benefit Plan

WHEREAS, Montana conservation districts are political subdivisions of the state, and

WHEREAS, conservation districts are governed by a board of supervisors, and

WHEREAS, conservation district supervisors are empowered to hire employees, permanent or temporary, and to establish the compensation and benefits for their employees, and

WHEREAS, conservation district supervisors are desirous of providing for their employees a group benefits plan to include group hospitalization, health, medical, surgical, life, and other similar and related group benefits provided to employees of political subdivisions, including flexible spending account benefits and payments in lieu of group benefits, and

WHEREAS, conservation district supervisors desire to fund a group benefit plan for their employees through a conservation district’s annual regular assessment.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation District, in consultation with the Conservation Districts Bureau, Conservation & Resource Development Division, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, develop legislation for the 2015 legislative assembly to adopt a specific law for codification in Title 15, chapter 10, part 4 and Title 76, chapter 15, Montana Code Annotated, to provide permanent funding of a group benefit plan for all conservation district employees by means of the conservation district’s annual regular levy.

Submitted by: Sweet Grass CD

MACD Committee Assignment: District Operations Passed

General Session Action: PASSED

UPDATE 11/2014:   MACD has discussed this issue with the Governor. DNRC researched the issue and noted that there already is legislation that would allow this to happen, with certain parameters. A number of Districts are experimenting with enacting the law. DNRC is taking the lead ref this issue. Contact Laurie Zeller for details.


Resolution 13-11

Montana Conservation Practices Month

WHEREAS, Conservation Districts and Watershed Groups in Montana actively work throughout the state to address local natural resource concerns through a wide range of projects and programs.

WHEREAS, the mission of CDs and Watershed Groups in Montana is often unknown because of limited marketing resources and a lack of an organized promotion effort throughout the state.

While groups are often very active at the local level, they often do not speak in a collective voice at the statewide level.

WHEREAS, the general public, news media, and political figures would benefit from an increased understanding and appreciation of the ongoing work of CDs and Watershed Groups by witnessing their successful projects and programs.

WHEREAS, an effort to showcase local projects and programs in an organized campaign can demonstrate how the Montana CDs and Watershed groups as a whole are making a difference in the state.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Montana CDs and Watershed Groups work to establish August as Montana Conservation Promotion Month starting August 2014. Participants will work with Montana Association of Conservation Districts and Montana Watershed Coordination Council to develop marketing materials (press release, logo, etc) and promote their own local event. Participants agree to organize and host a tour of a successful project or program in their area during the year.

Submitted by: Madison CD

MACD Committee Assignment: Education Passed

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED

UPDATE 11/2014: MACD has coordinated a survey, series of meetings and coordination with FWP to borrow video footage to create online, shareable videos about conservation. A small grant from the 223 program was secured to assist with this effort. 13 groups participated in this effort this first year, and there were a wide array of activities under the Conservation Month umbrella. Considering that this was our first year, there was a substantial amount of interest and press coverage.